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Russia’s Indoor Hockey Worlds preparations suffer big blow

Russia's preparations for the World Indoor Hockey Championships have suffered a major blow. The side finished off the podium in a warm-up tournament held outside Moscow, despite the world's elite nations skipping the event.

While Russia's football season may have come to a halt a week ago due to the weather conditions, it hasn't stopped the country's field hockey players from continuing theirs. They have moved indoors for the next few months, to prepare for February's World Championships, and in the long run, to continue their preparations to qualify for the London Olympics.

Indoor hockey, like Futzal, puts much more emphasis on technique and skill, rather than raw power and stamina, which are features of the outdoor game. And while full size pitches can cost up to a million dollars to build, indoor ones come at a fraction of the cost, and can double up as tennis or handball courts.

The warm-up event saw ten teams take part, including the likes of Austria and Iran, who'll both be competing alongside Russia in February.

The Russians missed out on a place in the final, and had to be content with playing rivals from Ukraine for the third place play-off.

This encounter showed the Russians just how much work has to be done to catch up with the world's elite.

Despite moving into a 3-1 lead, they conceded four straight goals to give the visitors a clear advantage, and despite a late fight back, Ukraine would hold on to seal third place, thanks to a 5-4 victory.

The final saw Austria play Iran. The Austrian's had the upper hand midway through the second half, as they opened up a 4-2 lead, but two goals at the death with just seconds left sent the game into a penalty shootout.

There was little to choose between the two sides, but a missed stroke by the Austrian side cost them dear, as Iran managed to convert all five, and that was enough to give them victory.